The holiday season is about celebrating with family and friends. It’s the most joyous time of the year, but for some, this time of year is filled with loneliness and sadness.
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The holiday blues are more common than we perceive them to be. It’s the nagging sadness that arrives on the same train as the in-store Christmas music and the rest of the festive greetings, which usually make an appearance in November and generally only takes off again in the New Year, but not before dishing out an extra dose of sadness on New Year’s Eve.
Psychotherapist Dr Akua Boateng says, “The holidays bring an increase in thoughts about family, relationships, and social engagement. If there are issues within these dynamics in our lives, sadness or depression can surface.”
The financial pressures of the festive season can also bring about feelings of anxiety, stress and sadness. Although money doesn’t bring happiness, there is a direct connection between a lack of money and poor mental health.
So let’s do things differently this year. Instead of focusing on the negative, let’s put all of our energy into self-love and joy this holiday season.
1. Quiet your mind:
Start your day with a mantra that resonates with you and recite it every morning. Find time to quiet your mind. It will bring you a sense of calmness and improve your state of mind and perspective on life.
2. Go for a walk in nature:
Walking in nature is proven to reduce depression, increase energy levels and boost well-being.
3. Consider volunteering during the holiday season:
Find a cause that you are passionate about and volunteer your time. Volunteering does wonders for the soul.
4. Create a budget:
As much as we would all like to buy everyone we know a gift and decorate our homes from top to bottom with glowing lights, in today’s financial economy, it’s just not possible. Set boundaries for yourself. Nobody’s going to dislike you for not buying them a gift, and if they do, you should seriously rethink your relationship. Your kids will be okay with just one gift.
5. Stick to a routine:
Time over the holiday season seems to be on go-slow but try to schedule a routine and stick to it. Humans love routine and we tend to feel a bit lost and useless without one.
6. Go be a lazy bum for 15 minutes:
The sun triggers the release of serotonin in your brain, which is associated with boosting your mood and helping you feel calm and focused.
7. It’s okay to say NO:
Humans have a natural predisposition to be agreeable. Learn to say no to things you don’t agree with or events you don’t want to attend.
8. Believe that you are worthy:
Value yourself enough to avoid self-criticism. Be just as respectful and kind to yourself as you would be to anyone else and make time for the things you enjoy doing.
9. Keep good company:
People’s energies are infectious so make sure to surround yourself with good people who radiate good energy.
10. Keep smiling:
Remember to laugh and just keep smiling. It’s been proven that smiling changes your mood (try it) and alters your brain to view life’s situations with more clarity and less stress.
Here are some organisations you can contact if you’d like someone to walk this journey of mental well-being with you, some of which offer free services:
- South African Depression and Anxiety Group
- SA Federation for Mental Health
- Cape Mental Health Care